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WIREs Energy Environ.
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Assessing the impact of R&D policy on PV market development: The case of South Korea

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Abstract The purpose of this article is to examine the Korean photovoltaic (PV) R&D strategy and its effectiveness in helping Korean manufacturer competitiveness. The article reviewed the Korean government's PV R&D funding from 2008 to 2017 and investigated the technology readiness levels of 298 R&D projects funded by the Korean government during the same period. It is found that the Korean government followed a two‐track approach of nurturing commercialization technology to cope with rapid growth and volatility in the current global market. The effects of government support for market‐ready and next‐generation technologies in order to position the country in today's competition and to prepare it for “first mover” opportunities in emerging markets are considered. During 2008–2017, Korean manufacturers maintained a 7% of market share. Module prices, which were more than USD 6 per watt in 2000, fell to less than USD 1 in 2017. From a technical point of view, silicon‐based modules have achieved world‐class status in their efficiency. Performance of the country's nonsilicon technologies reached nearly 90% of the world's best nonsilicon products in the early 2010s, but recently, next‐generation technology development is lagging. Despite Korean PV industry's achievements, it is unclear whether Korean government PV R&D strategy affected competitiveness. Since 2013, the Korean government has sharply cut PV R&D funding. Early growth may have been affected by government support, but recent growth may be driven by corporate strategies. A significantly higher level of R&D funding may be needed for Korea's next‐generation technologies to capture “first mover” status. This article is categorized under: Energy and Climate > Economics and Policy Photovoltaics > Economics and Policy Energy Policy and Planning > Economics and Policy
Korean solar photovoltaic (PV) R&D investment and PV products price trends. (a) Renewable energy R&D investment (Korea). (b) Public and private PV R&D investment (Korea). (c) Share of solar in renewable energy R&D investment (Korea). (d) Global price trend of PV products. (e) Solar PV R&D ratio to gross domestic product (GDP) by country. Data: The Korea MOTIE, IEA PVPS (–2018; IEA PVPS, 2007a, 2008a, 2009a, 2010a, 2013a; IEA PVPS, 2013b, 2014a), PV insights, World Development Indicators. *In panel(a), MUSD represents million US dollar. **Private investment is the matching funds from companies needed to receive government grants
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Korean photovoltaic (PV) maker's module efficiency achievement. Data: Korea Energy Agency, PV Magazine, Energysage
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Economic performance of the Korea photovoltaic (PV) Industry. Data: IEA PVPS (–2006, 2007a–2010a, 2007b–2010b, 2011, 2012, 2013a, 2013b, 2013c, 2014a, 2014b, 2015–2018), OECD Monthly Monetary and Financial Statistics (MEI): Exchange rates (USD monthly averages)
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Budget allocation between silicon and nonsilicon solar cell. Data: The Korea MOTIE
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Government solar photovoltaic R&D projects investment by technology readiness level (TRL). Data: The Korea MOTIE
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Energy Policy and Planning > Economics and Policy
Photovoltaics > Economics and Policy
Energy and Climate > Economics and Policy

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